A popular book that I read recently called Made to Stick by Chip & Dan Heath references a 1999 study “The Fundamental Templates of Quality Ads” by an Israeli research team. The study found that 89% of award-winning ads could be classified into 6 basic templates. When the researchers tried to classify another 200 non-award winning ads, they discovered that only 2% of them met this criteria. The great thing about this research for you and me is that if you can master the concepts behind these 6 templates, you can be an award-winning ad genius too.

In fact, the researchers decided to test just that hypothesis by asking 3 test groups of ordinary people to create ads and have 15 of them selected by a professional creative director, and then tried out with consumers. The test group which was trained in these 6 templates for just 2 hours had their ads rated 50% more creative than the other test groups’ ads. Also the consumers in the experiment were 55% more positive about the products and services featured in the ads than the other test groups! Wow.

That said, I’d like to share with you these six basic templates and give you some examples of them, so that you can try the experiment yourself:

  • Extreme Consequences

Points out unexpected consequences of a product attribute. A great example is this ad for Gold’s Gym. The extreme consequence of using Gold’s Gym? You don’t need to call your loser friends to help you move. http://danpieper.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/goldsgym_couch21.jpg

  • Pictorial Analogy

Extreme analogies rendered visually. These ads for Smart Car show the advantage of the product with just a simple photo. You can fit into small spaces that other cars cannot. http://danpieper.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/smartsmallalleys21.jpg Here’s another example from Subaru, a brand that commands so much respect, even a pigeon can’t crap on it. http://danpieper.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/subaru-legacy-respect-pigeons-big.jpg

  • Extreme Situations

A product is seen performing under extreme or unusual circumstances. This Nerolac ad is a great example of the Extreme Situations template, but an abysmal example of truth in advertising. An example from Nerolac of an Exteme Situation http://danpieper.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/nerolac-quick-dry-paints-fence-small-96442.jpg

  • Competition

A product is seen winning in a competition with another product, often in an unusual situation. Have you seen the T-Mobile ads on TV that take pot-shots at AT&T? You have witnessed a competition ad. T-Mobile’s Competition ad. http://danpieper.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/t-mobile-mytouch-4g-commercial.jpg

  • Interactive Experiments

Viewers interact with the product directly. See for yourself! Here is a brilliant example from Leo Burnett, Mumbai. The reader can pull a small sample pack of Tide from the ad, when they do, the stain lifts off the clothing of the model. When they’re done having fun with that, they can try the free sample pack of Tide. http://danpieper.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/tide-dirt-magnets-coffee.jpg

  • Dimensional Alteration

A peek into the future, showing the long-term implications of the product. This series of ads from AT&T takes us into a possible future to show us what the potential results of texting and driving could be. AT&T shows us the consequences. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jUe3X1THFFY&feature=related

  • If you think of yourself as super creative, this list of ad templates might seem too confining or predictable. I can see that point, but I do think this list is at least a great place to start brainstorming. Remember that only a measly 89% of ads fit into these categories, so you have an 11% chance of succeeding. Good luck and happy concepting!
may 13 2012 ∞
may 13 2012 +